NAVY NEWS, DECEMBER 2007 7
Perish or conquer
FIVE budding submarine assessment were witnessed
AT LAST warm climes
commanders plus their mentor/ by Commander-in-Chief Fleet,
beckoned for HMS
assessor (aka ‘Teacher’) joined Admiral Sir James Burnell-
Southampton after a chilly
HMS Tireless for a frantic Nugent... a course he passed
deployment in the South
month beneath the waves. three decades ago.
Everything a submarine’s The Perishers fi nally left the
With her marathon tour-of-
commanding officer might be boat in Devonian waters... to
duty coming to a close, the
expected to deal with – and be replaced by ten potential
much more besides – was offi cer cadets experiencing life
fi nally left the Americas behind
thrown at the quintet as the at sea in a submarine for the
and sailed for a seven-day spell
latest Submarine Command fi rst time.
in Cape Town.
Course, commonly known as The cadets sailed across
That visit fell over
Perisher, reached its climax off Lyme Bay to Portland, where
Remembrance weekend and
western Scotland. a fairly lengthy stop was
aside from taking a full part in
There can be few sights more planned – Tireless was the fi rst
the famous port’s memorial
frightening to any submariner submarine to visit since the RN
service – South Africans fought
than a destroyer or frigate base closed a dozen years
with distinction in both World
bearing down on their ago.
Wars, notably on the Somme
boat at full speed. Tireless was in
and in North Africa – the British
But the ‘eyes only’ town to test the
sailors linked hands with
section of Perisher is harbour’s Z-Berth, a
their South African comrades
also regarded as the quay designated
for a particularly poignant
most exhilarating specially for nuclear
part of the submarines.
The day before the November
course: to launch But she also
11 ceremonies, Cape Town
a successful paid homage to
ground to a halt to recall a
torpedo attack her forebears.
Great War disaster which
while every Thirteen men
resonates through the decades
skimmer in the were killed in
for South Africa.
● Wrapped attention... HMS Manchester’s sailors man the upper deck on a bitterly cold November day
area tries to charge June 1955 when a
The troopship SS Mendi was
as the destroyer leaves Portsmouth Picture: LA(Phot) Luis Holden, FRPU Whale Island
you down. hydrogen peroxide-
struck by a liner in fog off the
And then there’s what fuelled torpedo exploded
Isle of Wight and sank, taking
more than 600 troops – most of
them black – down with her.
The fortitude of those men,
epitomised by their chaplain
who urged the Mendi’s
New star of the
the Germans call the Freijagd in HMS Sidon, sending the
– the free for all – where any boat to the bottom of the
ship venturing within torpedo harbour.
range of Tireless became a Tireless’ CO Cdr Ed Ahlgren
target, foe and friend. In true joined veteran submariners
deep fashion, the watches and local Sea Cadets at a
passengers to be calm as the
squabbled over who had sunk commemorative service,
ship sank crying “let us die
the most tonnage. laying a wreath on the Sidon
like brothers”, serves as an
In between this game monument – fittingly a slab
inspiration to their present-day
of hunted and hunter, the of Portland stone – which
Devonport-based boat overlooks the harbour.
Named in their honour is the
squeezed in Exercise Neptune Tireless finally returned to
new corvette SAS Mendi, which
Warrior, weapons drill tests in Devonport in exciting fashion.
berthed alongside Southampton
the British Underwater Test The boat conducted a series
on Cape Town’s historic
and Evaluation Centre on the of training exercises with
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.
THE crew of HMS Manchester “But it’s what we joined the scenes glimpse of life aboard a Kyle of Lochalsh, intelligence frogmen in Whitsand Bay and
The Mendi’s loss is
have the unique honour of
Navy to do and it’s important British warship.
gathering and Tomahawk inside Plymouth’s breakwater
particularly pertinent to HMS
guarding 100,000 tons of
business for the Government.” And the stokers mess also
missile launch procedures. which was apparently a
Southampton: many of the
US military hardware for the
The mission begins in the Med, enjoyed a behind-the-scenes
Just to add to the pressure “spectacular show for the
victims of the tragedy are
next six months.
before shifting east of Suez to the tour... they had a comprehensive
for the Perisher students, watching yachts, fishing
buried in Southampton’s
Somalian coast where the force
The Busy Bee is heading to the
look around Cardiff’s Millennium the final stages of their vessels and ferries.”
will put the boot into pirates. Stadium.
And so both ships’
Mediterranean and Middle East
To prepare herself for thinking
companies stood side-by-
as chaperone for super-carrier
and acting American,
side with Dr Zweledinga Pallo
USS Harry S Truman.
Manchester headed to the
Jordan, South Africa’s arts
This is the fi rst time
USA in the summer where
minister, and Paul Boateng, the
a British warship has
she worked alongside US
British High Commissioner to
been formally part of
the country, to mark the 90th
an American carrier
anniversary of the Mendi’s loss.
Portsmouth to join
Once the ceremonies were It follows a deal
the American task
over, the mood lifted somewhat struck between the
group, the Busy Bee
as the Saints let their hair down two Allies last year.
paid her fi nal visit to
in style. Cdr David Dominy,
a UK port in 2007.
For some, climbing Table Manchester’s
Cardiff was that
Mountain was a must. Commanding Offi cer,
port, although much
Others toured the local said this was an
of the visit was devoted
vineyards (where sampling the opportunity the men and
to the market town of
produce was also a must). women of the Busy Bee
And others still enjoyed were “ready to seize”.
Hereford lost its adopted
adventure sports ranging from He added: “For the UK it shows
ship, HMS Antelope, during
horse riding to bungee jumping the trust the Americans have in
the Falklands confl ict – a loss
and skydiving. the Royal Navy – our capability
remembered by the town and
There were also more and our ability to infl uence in the
by Manchester at a Falklands 25
conventional sports to be region.
played: the ship’s football and “Manchester is the fi rst Royal
The ship also hosted local and
cricket teams both took to
Navy escort – frigate or destroyer Hereford dignitaries, URNU
the fi eld against Cape Town’s
– which has been allowed to fully cadets from the universities of
Olympic Sports Club.
integrate with an American strike Bristol, Birmingham and Wales,
Southampton returns to
group. fi refi ghters and schoolchildren.
Portsmouth this month.
“It is diffi cult to pull yourself More than 650 people trekked
marina Mighty 90 in South Georgia, away from young families and aboard the Busy Bee during an
page 12 loved ones for seven months. open afternoon for a behind-the-
Lima. Dakar. Scarborough?
BY THE time you read this HMS Dumbarton Castle region... where they found an English-themed pub to
will be plain old Dumbarton Castle. watch the Rugby World Cup semi-fi nal triumph over
But as we write this, she’s still proudly prefi xed by France.
the letters H, M, and S. Callao was the last stop in the Pacifi c. Next stop
The Falkland Islands patrol vessels has been was the Panama Canal, but fi rst there was the
making her back from the South Atlantic in invisible barrier of the Equator to cross.
fairly gentle fashion. King Neptune and his aides (who looked
DC – known as The Last Castle as the sole suspiciously like many of the senior ratings
survivor of the Castle-class (there were, in drag) were kind enough to permit DC’s
admittedly, only two ships) – chose to sailors across the line – which many did
return to Portsmouth not by the direct by swimming over the Equator.
route but via the Pacifi c. After an overnight passage of the
That meant fi rst passage through Panama Canal, the patrol ship emerged
the Magellan Straits and transit of the in the Caribbean and headed straight for
various natural waterways and canals of Scarborough (the one in Tobago, not the
Patagonia in southern Chile towards her one in Yorkshire).
fi rst port of call, Valparaiso. Six days were spent in the island, chiefl y
Highlights of the goodwill work carried allowing the sailors to let their hair down for
out in the famous Chilean port included laying the fi nal time before the long Atlantic crossing.
a wreath at the monument of national hero Capitan The highlight of this spell of R&R was a barbecue
Arturo Prat and tours of the ship offered to local on the beach at Pigeon Point.
schoolchildren and Chilean Naval cadets. And then the Atlantic beckoned. First the ship
Then it was on to Callao in Peru for a brief two- replenished courtesy of tanker RFA Wave Ruler, then
day visit. The now customary offi cial receptions took she headed for Dakar.
place on the fi rst day for local dignitaries and the There was a 24-hour turnaround in the Senegalese
Peruvian Navy. port – time aplenty to take on all necessary supplies
The ship also hosted a children’s party for and even squeeze in a few offi cial functions.
youngsters from a local orphanage. Dumbarton Castle entered Portsmouth for the
Despite the brevity of the visit, there was enough fi nal time on November 22 and was due to offi cially
time for some sailors to head to Lima’s downtown decommission eight days later.
007_NN_Dec.indd 1 20/11/07 09:52:22
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